eNews September 2018

In Memoriam – John Whitlock Hernandez, Jr., August 17, 1929 – June 28, 2018

Dr. John Hernandez was a longtime colleague and friend of the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute. Upon arriving at New Mexico State University in July 1965, John’s presence was felt as he worked across departments and colleges on water-related projects and issues. His first institute publication dated back to 1975 – a paper on the National Safe Drinking Water Act. Even after his retirement from NMSU in 1999, John continued to work on water projects and, in 2006, he co-authored a report on the water conservation potential of the Tucumcari Project. John attended most of the institute’s annual water conferences, speaking at many including at the 50th anniversary conference where he paid tribute to the first director of the NM WRRI, Dr. Ralph Stucky. In 2008, John was honored with giving the Albert E. Utton Memorial Water Lecture at the annual conference. John’s love for storytelling, especially related to the history of water in New Mexico, was evident in his talk, “100 Years of Water Management in New Mexico – Stories about the People Involved.” John was also the driving force behind the book, “One Hundred Years of Water Wars in New Mexico 1912-2012,” which we worked on together.  – Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

A celebration of Dr. John Hernandez’s life was held on September 22, 2018 at Hernandez Hall on the New Mexico State University campus. John’s colleague in the College of Engineering, Dr. David Jauregui, honored John with the following tribute:

On behalf of the Department of Civil Engineering at NMSU, it is with a heavy heart that we mourn the loss of Dr. John W. Hernandez, who passed away on June 28, 2018. Dr. Hernandez was a Professor, Dean, mentor, colleague, friend, and force of nature. His commitment to the Department, the College, the University, the State, the Country, and to humanity is inspiring. John’s spirit and enthusiasm for life, family, work, and fun never left him. This is a sad time, but also a time to reflect, rejoice, and honor one of the most exceptional men we knew. Dr. Hernandez was a Renaissance man, educated in and appreciating arts, literature, sports, and of course engineering, math, and science. We draw on Charles Dickens in homage to the man after whom our building is named:

“Father Time is not always a hard parent, and, though he tarries for none of his children, often lays his hand lightly upon those who have used him well; making them old men and women inexorably enough, but leaving their hearts and spirits young and in full vigour. With such people the grey head is but the impression of the old fellow’s hand in giving them his blessing, and every wrinkle but a notch in the quiet calendar of a well-spent life.” (Barnaby Rudge)

Those of us who were fortunate enough to know, learn from and work with Dr. Hernandez have lost a dear colleague and a cherished mentor. Our hearts go out to his family and to all who were touched by his extraordinary life. Further information is provided in Dr. Hernandez’s obituary available at the following link:

Donations for the Dr. John Whitlock Hernandez Endowed Fund to benefit NMSU Civil Engineering, which was established with a bequest from the Hernandez family, would be gratefully appreciated. For details, please contact Stephanie Armitage Sichler, Director of Development, College of Engineering (575-646-5457) or Dr. David Jauregui, Civil Engineering Department Head (575-646-3801).